Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Demands That the Military Do More to Combat Stress among Deployed Troops

May 2009

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) demands that the horror of the killing of five U.S. service people by a fellow soldier at a "stress clinic" at Camp Liberty in Iraq, force the recognition for increased diligence in treating service people quickly for potential PTSD and, most importantly, for preventing its recurrence. The question is why must we always need to have a tragic event before we provide research and definitive action.

The soldier identified as the murderer of his fellow service people is on his third tour of duty in Iraq and had previously served in Bosnia and Kosovo. He was in the stress clinic after having been referred there by his superiors over concern about his mental state. This was the sixth incident in which a service member has intentionally killed a comrade since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

At a time when studies show that one out of six service members returning from Iraq exhibits signs of PTSD or other emotional difficulties, the military must be more conscientious about identifying and addressing the needs of stressed soldiers and addressing them more quickly.

The military must do more to guard against the development of such emotional injuries in the first place by not increasing the length of time between deployments without there being a requirement for special services. We must be pro-active in offering mental health support services. We must not wait until the indicia of the stress level have reached this level.

The military must identify, understand, and quantify potential emotional distress while immediately removing the individual from the battlefield and offering all available counseling to these service people for their own sake and for the sake of their fellow service people.

The military must also do all in their power by allowing sufficient rest time between deployments. The increasing stress should not be allowed to build up to a level at which emotional symptoms can appear and lead to disastrous consequences for the individual service person and his or her comrades.

We cannot continue to return personnel home with PTSD before we address the condition. It must be addressed head-on before or at the time of its occurrence and be treated then, not later after it becomes an event rather than a cause.

 

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